The heft and feel of a well-worn handle,
The sight of shavings that curl from a blade;
The logs in the wood pile, the sentiment of huge beams in an old-fashioned house;
The smell of fresh cut timber and the pungent fragrance of burning leaves;
The crackle of kindling and the hiss of burning logs.
Abundant to all the needs of man, how poor the world would be
Without wood.

Everard Hinrichs, quoted by Eric Sloane in A Reverence for Wood


Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Best of the Rest - Bungendore Wood Works Gallery, Part 2

Some details in the life of David Mac Laren, founder of the Bungendore Wood Works Gallery:
"My wood working career started in 1971 when I responded to an 'apprentice wanted' notice in the window of a woodworking gallery on Lexington Avenue and 27th Street in Manhattan...we made stack laminated furniture much in the style of Wendal Castle as well as natural edge furniture in the style of George Nakashima...As I shaped and sanded, I saw gorgeous black walnut and zebra wood and cocobolo glisten with a deep lustrous finish. I was possessed, obsessing with finishing, and hooked on woodworking. 
"In 1978 I returned to Australia...[and] settled on a rural property south of Bungendore...opened the Bungendore Wood Works Gallery in 1983. I gave some American Black Walnut to seven or eight woodworkers in the region from Braidwood to Tharwa, and said 'make something with it.'
"My personal design 'ethos' has been to consider hardwood as a basic starting point. I resist using veneers or bent laminations...I developed the 'X' frame table and various styles using that basic design...and this design is derived from considering hardwood with its basic and simple characteristics: its hardness and strength.
"I devote all my time to the Gallery now. It has grown to become a premier, world class gallery..."

Indeed it is.

I'm going to have a hard time culling them down, but I'll share with you a just a few more of my personal favorite pieces currently in the gallery, selected mostly on the interest of the wood species used.

Let's start with this rocker. Stunning. A chair too beautiful to sit in. Made from Quilted Queensland Maple, which seems to be one of the favorite woods in the gallery. Crafted by an artist named Tony Kenway, this is the chair I hope my kids decide to buy me when they learn to appreciate my grouchiness and think me cute in my old age.

Mr. Kenway also performed the wondrous "Cunji" dining set featured in the last post.

How about this hall table for an eye catcher? Made from Blackwood and Eucalypt Burl, it kind of reminds me of the movie "Zulu". Great movie, great table.

And while on hall/display tables, take a look at this one. That top is Birds-eye Huon Pine, and it has Blackwood legs. Didn't catch what the vase burl was. I still see the shimmering of that table top in my minds eye, and it stayed with me throughout my days down under. Great story on Huon Pine, from an official Tasmanian website...

"Huon Pine

Huon pine is one of the slowest-growing and longest-living plants in the world. It can grow to an age of 3,000 years or more. Only the bristle-cone pine of North America lives longer.

Huon pine is found in western Tasmania (not far from Strahan), on the Central Plateau and in the Huon Valley.

Huon pine is a relic of Gondwana - the first pollen records date back 135 million years.

International headlines were made with the discovery of a stand of Huon pines on the west coast still growing from a base root more than 10,000 years old. All the trees are male and are genetically identical. No individual tree in the stand is 10,000 years old; rather, the stand itself has been in existence for that long.

In the early 1820s, convicts on Sarah Island, in Tasmania's remote west, constructed ships from Huon pine. The wood contains oil that retards the growth of fungi, hence its early popularity in ship-building. Later, piners on the Franklin and Gordon rivers felled Huons and floated them downstream.

Today, the tree is wholly protected and cannot be felled. However, wood on the forest floor, or buried in river beds, remains usable after hundreds of years and is still prized by modern woodworkers."

There were many great wooden boxes on display in the gallery, and my favorite was, what the heck, I'll show you several...

Red Cedar
Huon Pine

My favorite...Lignum Vitae...but this is the Australian lignum vitae, probably Bulnesia spp., not to be confused with the hardest commercial wood in the world, Guaiacum officinalewhich is listed as an endangered species. Still, pretty darn hard. This box will set you back $4,400
 Where to stop?  Well, for its uniqueness among the pieces in the gallery, I'll close with this clock, made entirely of wood, gears and all. Zebrawood, ebony, and silver (mountain) my opinion, worth every penny of its $28,000 price tag. Where would you get another like it?

Well, back of the gallery, and one more stunner. This piece practically glows as you look at it.

Australian Blackwood



For any more, you'll have to visit the Gallery's online store. I'll vouch for the fact that no wood aficionado will be disappointed in anything they receive as a Christmas present from the Bungendore Wood Works Gallery.

A Go Wood hat's off to David MacLaren and his gallery...what a great life's work and contribution. If you ever find yourself passing through New South Wales, you have to find time to make a side trip to'll never regret it.

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